Im currently in college. Im majoring in Psychology this time with my GI bill, and I have training in the science labs at University of Michigan...but genetics took a second seat to my fascination with human behavior.
I hate streamlined thought, and am constantly questioning things...and I love a good debate to make the brain THINK instead of saying, well this is the way its been, so this is the ONLY way it can be.
Bettas exhibit behaviors and traits less complex than Humans, but I've been studying how physical traits can be connected to psychological behaviors. And not only are they fast breeders, but they are gorgeous and expressive fish.
I contemplated breeding dogs, or birds, or cats, but besides the fact that this takes WAY more time... I LOVE these fish.
Yeah our puppy has great lines. Her grandmother was a national winner twice, her mother and siblings have done well, and everyone in her pedigree had passed their hips and elbows. She was doing really well in the show ring, until we took her in to get x-rayed at 12 months and they told us she had hip dysplasia with arthritic changes already happening. That's the trouble with genetics. There is no guarantee on what you are going to get. Even breeding the best to the best you can still end up with mediocre.
However, that doesn't mean that you should breed mediocre to mediocre and hope for the best. You have to remember that even if an individual is excellent, if those standing behind it are lacking, these same genes are still going to be passed on.
Selective breeding gives at least some idea as to the quality of offspring that is going to be produced from a particular crossing. If you have a line of fish that have been selectively bred for a few generations, you are going to have a basic idea as to what subsequent generations are going to turn out like. Sure there might be a few curveballs thrown in, but the goal of any breeder is generally consistency in quality and type.
However, if you were to throw a random fish into the mix, who knows what that fish (either good or bad) could be introducing into your line. Just because it doesn't display any faults of its own, doesn't mean that it isn't carrying the gene for something like poor fins or a bumpy topline that are then passed onto its offspring.
I think most people like to fix their line so they are getting a consistent type generation after generation and then outcross to maintain genetic diversity. I know there are issues with the quality and fertility of some killifish species in Australia because they are a difficult import and only very small populations of breeding fish are being maintained.
Sorry, didnt see this post till after.
I understand that mediocre will begat mediocre, but what defines mediocre? A LOT of what is in the standard has to do with symmetry and what HUMANS desire to see in the fish. Taking junk fish, and breeding with a few show quality to improve them, should expand the genepool, and gives a breeder leeway to start paring down for traits they specifically want.
The worry is is that there are some breeders who think a fish that is up to standard, but not from a lineage should STILL not be bred, this creates the insular breeding between experienced show breeders, so down the line the fish become closer and closer in their DNA.
Perhaps these pond dwelling fish developed genetic mutations to deal with the naturally small selection of breeding partners, but this is something I want to study in depth.
The thing is when you are talking about humans selectively breeding animals the human standard is the only one that matters. Our fish will never have to fight off competitors or avoid predators, they will never have to cope with the ups and downs of seasonal changes or spend all their time trying to fill their stomach.
Humans can only cull what we perceive to be the faulty. Sometimes in the case of a fry with a severely deformed spine that is an easy choice to make. But for other issues that might not be so visible it is next to impossible for a human to pick out the affected fish. With that said, even the healthiest fish in the wild can sometimes draw the short straw and end up dying before their time. If that fish is a dominant male, then you may have the less fit males reproducing which could diminish the fitness of that population as a whole.
I personally detest dog showing as a means to an end. I believe that to be breeding worthy a working dog should have to prove that not only does it meet the standard of conformation, but also that it has the mental and physical sturdiness to stand up to the job it was originally bred for.
With bettas it becomes harder. They were basically bred first to fight and then for appearance. So do we go back to the tough as boots fighting fish that were not pretty but appeared to be physically robust? Or do we continue breeding fish where really the only standard it is judged against is beauty and symmetry? Does it matter then that by selectively breeding generation after generation that we are weakening the species as a whole if the only purpose of the fish is to be beautiful?
I personally hate rosetails and feathertails. I feel that the bad genes that appear to be linked to these traits are not something that should be perpetuated. Yet people like the appearance of these fish, and so don't seem to care that these genes are possibly being spread around to fish that don't even possess these characteristics because of breeding only for a physical trait.
It's an interesting discussion and I think it would be very interesting indeed if there were some way of mapping just how genetically similar bettas from different sources actually are.
I heard rosetail is a major deformity...a mutation... And cannot be bred safely without massive culling, causing you to have MAYBE 10% of the spawn left.
As for the background of the fish... Mine will actually go with the known background with them. A card with the information (includes diseases, sickness, deformities, parents, cross type, color(s), etc) because I feel people aught to know what they are getting. If the further genetics are unknown, I will note it.
On the human standard being the only standard that matters, THAT is the thinking I am trying to discuss.
LBF, you put it succinctly, With Breeders breeding only for beauty and Best Of Show in mind, are we weakening our beloved bettas?
Some OHM have severe difficulty breeding, just as the majority of English or american bulldogs have to be ARTIFICIALLY inseminated to get a litter! What will this be like for Bettas who are trying to be bred into something insane like FULL moon? Or tritails?
In the wild, it is survival of the fittest, and yes, sometimes a specimen in its prime meets an unfortunate end, but the repercussions of human interference in the direction of the species is generally ignored.
Ten years ago, there were not as many cases of psychological behavior in these fish... perhaps it is more apparent due to the expanding popularity, Or perhaps it is stashed away in the repeating genetic codes beneath extensive branching, or the 180 spread?
I've also read about horrifying issues with prolific fin rot, or a scale rot that takes the entire fish in 24 hours.
So my quest, is basically this, breed a few culls from show quality fish, breed pet fish with no background but a sound form and coloration, and perhaps breed a show pair, and compare the quality of their activity and nesting behavior.
Having a lineage for your fish is good, but I want to know if...lets say...by avoiding a malformed ventral or head hunch, you compound excessive fin biting, or a weakness to velvet?
It's true. Focusing on the unwanted genetics, to get rid of them we make room for other problems... Since comparing to dogs... Dogs were our best friends, they worked with us, protected us. Now they are so over bred there are even more problems than there were. Give me a odd sized German shepherd over a "perfect" German shepherd any day if I can be told be DOES NOT have a tumor. But we can't get everything we want...
They actually have a documentary on this in dogs. We have been selectively breeding dogs for HUNDREDS of years. What will happen to our fish? Our beloved beauties who spawn ten times faster than any Pup, thus possibly accelerating these issues.
How do we avoid this? CAN it be avoided with the intensive competition between breeders? And the general stigma of breeding LPS fish?